Around the Metro by @kjcmalakai

The best club in the history of Pittsburgh, and the silly name of the division that the Penguins are in
Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.  It is in the spirit of this famous line uttered by Michael Corleone in the Godfather Part II that this weekly article will follow as I take a look at what the other teams in the Metropolitan Division have done in the past week and what is in store for them in the week ahead.  I'll review whats going on with the Penguins' divisional foes as well as injuries, transactions, and how each team fared in the past week leading up to this article.

Metro Games to Watch This Week
Friday, January 16 - Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders
Saturday, January 17 - New York Islanders @ Montreal Canadiens
Sunday, January 18 - New York Rangers @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Monday, January 19 - Philadelphia Flyers @ New York Islanders
Tuesday, January 20 - Pittsburgh Penguins @ Philadelphia Flyers
Wednesday, January 21 - Pittsburgh Penguins @ Chicago Blackhawks





Current Patrick Metro Division Standings


New York Islanders
Last Week: 3-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, January 16 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (woot)
     Saturday, January 17 @ Montreal Canadiens
     Monday, January 19 vs. Philadelphia Flyers
Transactions:  None
Injuries:  
     Mikhail Grabovski - lower body

As much as we don't want to admit it, these Islanders are really good and aren't going away.  Last week the Isles were undefeated including a 3-0 blanking of the red hot New York Rangers.  A Friday night showdown at Nassau Coliseum with the second place (for now) Pittsburgh Penguins is the highlight of their slate of games leading up to the All-Star Break.

Last Week:  2-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, January 16 @ New York Islanders
     Sunday, January 18 vs. New York Rangers
     Tuesday, January 20 @ Philadelphia Flyers
     Wednesday, January 21 vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Transactions:  
     Thursday, January 8 - Bobby Farnham sent down to AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
     Monday, January 12 - Derrick Pouliot sent down to AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
     Tuesday, January 13 - Taylor Chorney called up from AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
     Wednesday, January 14 - Taylor Chorney sent down to AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
     Wednesday, January 14 - Mark Arcobello claimed off of waivers
     Wednesday, January 14 - Bryan Rust sent down to AHL Wilkes Barre/Scranton
Injuries:  
     Steve Downie - head

Talk about a murderers row on the upcoming schedule!  Both New York teams, the hated Flyers, and then Western Conference power Chicago.  This week will be really telling if the Penguins recent 7-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild was a product of the Penguins rounding into form following all of the injuries and mumps, or if the Wild really are just a dumpster fire.

Last Week:  3-0-1
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, January 16 @ Nashville Predators
     Saturday, January 17 @ Dallas Stars
     Tuesday, January 20 vs. Edmonton Oilers
Transactions:  
     Friday, January 9 - Justin Peters sent down to AHL Hershey
     Friday, January 9 - Pheonix Copley called up from AHL Hershey
     Saturday, January 10 - Steve Oleksy called up from AHL Hershey
     Saturday, January 10 - Nate Schmidt sent down to AHL Hershey
     Sunday, January 11 - Steve Oleksy sent down to AHL Hershey
     Monday, January 12 - Pheonix Copley sent down to AHL Hershey
     Monday, January 12 - Justin Peters called up from AHL Hershey
     Tuesday, January 13 - Steve Oleksy called up from AHL Hershey
Injuries:  
     Nate Schmidt - shoulder

Don't look now, but here come the Capitals.  The Capitals have earned a point in 9 straight games starting with the 3-0 shut out of the Penguins on December 27 and are 6-0-1 in January.  Along with the New York Rangers, they are one of the hottest teams in the NHL and have made the race for the Metro suddenly very interesting.

Last Week:  2-1-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, January 15 @ Boston Bruins
     Friday, January 16 @ Columbus Bluejackets
     Sunday, January 18 @ Pittsburgh Penguins (woot)
     Tuesday, January 20 vs. Ottawa Senators
Transactions:  None
Injuries:  
     Derek Stepan - Upper Body

The Rangers are playing hockey like robots right now.  Up until getting shut out by the Islanders, a game in which Derek Stepan was once again injured, the Rangers had wins in 13 of their last 14 contests.  Stepan will be missed as he had been on a point per game pace since returning from a previous injury.

Last Week:  2-2-0
Upcoming Games:
     Thursday, January 15 vs. Vancouver Canucks
     Saturday, January 17 @ Buffalo Sabres
     Monday, January 19 @ New York Islanders
     Tuesday, January 20 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (woot)
Transactions:  
     Friday, January 9 - Nicklas Grossman placed on IR
     Sunday, January 11 - Rob Zepp called up from AHL Lehigh Valley
Injuries:  
     Steve Mason - lower body
     Nicklas Grossman - upper body
     Braydon Coburn - lower body
     Scott Laughton - upper body

And then there are the rest.  The Metro has a clear dividing line between the top four and bottom four teams and it starts with the Flyers.  Despite a career year from Jakub Voracek and the continuing strong play from Claude Giroux (#1 and #3 in NHL scoring respectively), the Flyers are mired in mediocrity.  That is just fine with me.  Steve Mason will be out for a few weeks which doesn't bode well for the Flyers being able to go on a run.  Think about that.  Steve Mason.  I never want to hear a Penguins fan complain about MAF ever again.

Last Week:  1-1-1
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, January 16 @ Anaheim Ducks
     Monday, January 19 @ San Jose Sharks
Transactions:  
     Monday, January 12 - Tuomo Rutuu placed on IR
     Tuesday, January 13 - Seth Helgeson sent down to AHL Albany
     Tuesday, January 13 - Joe Whitney called up from AHL Albany
     Wednesday, January 14 - Joseph Blandisi signed as free agent, three year contract
Injuries:  
     Tuomo Ruutu - illness
     Jaromir Jagr - illness

There isn't really much to say about the Devils right now.  While dwelling at the bottom of the league standings is bad, equally as bad is that this team is just not interesting.  The only real story line is where will Jagr be traded to?  This team needs to get younger and focus on the upcoming draft.  They are in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.

Last Week:  0-3-0
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, January 16 vs. New York Rangers
     Saturday, January 17 @ Boston Bruins
     Monday January 19 @ Minnesota Wild
     Wednesday, January 21 @ Winnipeg Jets
Transactions:  
     Friday, January 9 - Sergei Bobrovsky, contract extended - 4 year contract extension
Injuries:  
     Jack Skille - lower body

Is there any team more disappointing this year than the Columbus Blue Jackets?  The excitement of the playoff series against the Penguins has not carried over to this season and if it wasn't for hosting the All Star Game, there would be very little for Jackets fans to care about.  Nick Foligno being named an All Star captain feels to me like tee ball leagues giving trophies to every kid that shows up.  Bless his heart.

Last Week:  2-0-1
Upcoming Games:
     Friday, January 16 @ Nashville Predators
     Saturday, January 17 @ Dallas Stars
     Tuesday, January 20 vs. Edmonton Oilers
Transactions:  
     Thursday, January 8 - Zach Boychuk - sent down to AHL Charlotte
     Thursday, January 8 - Michal Jordan - sent down to AHL Charlotte
     Thursday, January 8 - Andrej Nestrasil - sent down to AHL Charlotte
     Wednesday, January 14 - Andrej Nestrasil - called up from AHL Charlotte
Injuries:  
     None

The Hurricanes only have 14 wins on the season, but 3 of them have come in their last 5 games.  Still, this team will clearly be sellers at the trading deadline, it's just a question of which pieces will GM Ron Francis move and for what in return.  The  'canes are really hoping that a ping pong ball bounces their way this summer.

Malakai's Musing for the Week
During Tuesday nights thrashing of the lost Minnesota Wild, Zach Sill registered his first NHL point.  Yay.  This is a monumental occasion in a young hockey player's professional career.  What makes this event so unique, however, is that it took Sill 48 NHL games to register his first point.  48.  Games.  Not even a cheap secondary assist in the prior 48 games he played.  Only Gord Strate of the Detroit Red Wings during the 1950's had a longer drought to open a career.

Zach Sill getting the third star while only registering an assist in a 7 goal game is like Nick Foligno being named an All Star captain
Sill made his professional debut on November 16, 2013 and registered his point on January 13, 2015.  427 days.  Here are some things that can be accomplished in the amount of time it took Zach Sill to register a point.

  • -Walk across the United States.  Twice.
  • -Meet, court, and break up with Zooey Deschanel.
  • -Grow a proper hipster beard.
  • -Win victory in Europe after landing in Normandy.
  • -Conceive, birth, and watch your baby grow out of 0-3 month clothing.
  • -Use Rosetta Stone software to learn how to cuss out Zach Sill in every language spoken by -NHL players.
  • -Shoot 197 different iterations of Rob Lowe Direct TV commercials
  • -Travel to Mars and back using 1960's technology
  • -Almost rebuild the Death Star
  • -Jump on and off the Washington Capitals bandwagon 427 times
  • -Get 60 bartenders degrees
  • -PennDOT will have repaired the same road 37 times
  • -Devan Dubnyk will start in goal for five NHL teams

Can you think of anything else?  Leave a comment below.  See yinz next week!
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